Coping Strategies: Managing difficult Negotiators

Coping Strategies: Managing difficult Negotiators

Would you like to change the way others negotiate with you? 

One of the things I learned when I was negotiating was that until I changed myself, I could not change others.” – Nelson Mandela.

 If you have ever wished you could change the way that other people negotiate with you, then it might be useful to start by reflecting on the coping strategies you have been using. Whilst the most effective coping strategy depends on the situation, there are two collaborative coping strategies which skilled negotiators repeatedly use.

A problem-focused coping strategy. This aims to remove the problem and the associated stresses. Imagine a negotiation where you are experiencing increasing stress because you think it is unfair that your biggest customer is claiming value at your expense. In this example a problem-focused coping strategy would remove the problem by jointly creating a definition for what is fair. Examples include applying one or more objective criteria such as formulas, methodologies, laws, currencies, past precedents, or principles in order that ‘any new agreements have to make both parties better off’. 

An emotion-focused coping strategy. This is used when you find yourself with very little control over the situation and you want to improve your ability to cope with the negative emotions. Once again imagine a negotiation that involves your biggest customer, and this time a situation where you have little choice other than to negotiate with someone who makes you feel very stressed. Unlike a problem-focused coping strategy that aims to remove the problem, an emotion-focused strategy recognises the lack of control over the situation and instead uses strategies like meditation and practising mindfulness to reduce the associated emotional stresses. 

How will you know if the changes you make are positive? Consider applying 3 practical measurements:

  1. Are the coping strategies removing or reducing the stresses?
  2. Is the discretionary effort each side is prepared to give increasing?
  3. Are the outcomes creating increased value?

Self-coaching tips

  • Use a push style and statements when you need to set clear boundaries.
  • Use a pull style and questions when you want to increase collaboration and joint problem solving.
  • Remember you teach others how to negotiate with you, which includes you having the credibility to walkaway when better relationships and options are available with others.


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